BRITTEN, MILHAUD, FINZI & R. STRAUSSWorks for Piano and Orchestra
Benjamin Britten, Gerald Finzi, Darius Milhaud, Richard Strauss
JOSHUA PIERCE, piano
Slovak State Chamber Orchestra of Zilina
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava
" [ * * * * ] these various dialogues for piano and orchestra span the years 1917-1942, and allow Joshua Pierce opportunities to demonstrate his versatility in divergent musical styles... Conductor Trevor keeps the musical momentum actively alert and fluid; and the accompanying booklet’s inclusion of the original concert program for Orchestra Zilina from 2004 offers the motivating document inspiring this fine, recorded collaboration."
Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition [January 2022]
"[In the Strauss and Milhaud], Pierce and Trevor achieve a very well-balanced and sensitive reading, with the Slovak State Chamber Orchestra of Zilina sounding as good in accompaniment as it does when front-and-center. The group’s strings also do well with Britten’s Young Apollo... Pierce manages to be both the focus of the material and a kind of first-among-equals chamber musician... Pierce and Trevor make [Young Apollo] as attractive as it can be, and listeners who are interested in this specific combination of 20th-century works will find much to enjoy in the congenial way Pierce and Trevor handle the repertoire."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [December 2021]
"Joshua Pierce is one of those rare pianists who taps into every corner of the classical music kingdom and turns any composition into an invigorating outcome. Other poignant qualities within his output are his flexibility and pliability... One of the specialized niches inside which the pianist greatly excels is showpieces for piano and orchestra... The importance of this CD is MSR Classics’ ability to capture a full articulation of piano and orchestra and how each entity has its own position in evoking a deeply refreshing élan. Undoubtedly, Joshua Pierce’s performance is simply stunning and filled with effervescence... A strong consideration for neoclassical fans in the mood for something punchy."
Christie Grimstad, ConcertoNet [December 2021]
"The Milhaud Carnival is attractive... This is a fine recording [of the Strauss], and if you don’t already have one and like this program, you will enjoy it."
Donald Vroon, American Record Guide [November/December 2021]
"Joshua Pierce...shines in another memorable album... Pierce gives us some of the best work he has shown to date among his more than 60 recordings, and that’s saying a lot... Joshua Pierce shows himself adept as a chamber artist performing with eloquence and spirit against the strings and the other solo instrumentalists [in Strauss’ orchestral suite for Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme]."
Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Club [October 2021]
"It has always been a joy to perform and record with Joshua Pierce - from Chopin’s Don Juan Variations and the Weber-Liszt Polacca Brilliant to the works of Gershwin and Roy Harris and so much more. Over the years, we have collaborated on so many projects of the highest caliber. These particular new recordings of Finzi, Britten, Milhaud and Strauss, represent Joshua’s immense versatility as both a brilliant soloist as well as a sensitive chamber musician playing within the orchestra… he is a true artist for the ages”
Kirk Trevor [on these recordings]
"Joshua Pierce possesses an arsenal of pianistic talents that can astonish the ear and instruct the mind.”
PROGRAM NOTESPiano and orchestra were the dominant media of musical discourse throughout the romantic and much of the modern period. They evolved at the same time and in parallel ways – separate but equal. Keyboards were an essential part of the eighteenth-century instrumental ensembles but vanished almost completely from the nineteenth-century orchestra. In an age when orchestras went public, the piano represented a private sphere of music-making in the home and salon. But this was also the age of the heaven-storming piano virtuoso, the rock star of the day. Piano and orchestra came together in virtuoso showpieces designed to show off the soloist but also as antagonists in the dramatic framework of the concerto: piano-with-orchestra and, often, piano-versus-orchestra.
But there was also another, more amicable kind of dialogue between piano and orchestra, one that was once almost equally as important as the others. This was the lyric or narrative poem in which the piano takes the part of the singer or story teller while the orchestra provides the setting of the story (sometimes the roles are reversed and the orchestra tells the story while the piano offers colors and commentary). A huge number of now-forgotten romantic works, often based on popular tunes or arias of the day, were written in this vein, mainly by pianist-composers anxious to show off both their virtuosic and poetic skills. After a period of neglect, these kinds of concerted-works-that-are-not-concertos made a comeback, particularly in the neo-classical period of the 20th century after World War I.
The archetypal neo-classicist was Igor Stravinsky, but the movement he inspired was widespread in European music. Although he is not often thought of in this way, the much younger Benjamin Britten was as much of a neo-classicist as Stravinsky and, in fact, Britten’s career and many of his major works have remarkable parallels in Stravinsky’s work. It was not always Stravinsky who led the way but, in the case of the Greek sun god Apollo, the Russian composer was there first (his Apollon musagètes dates from 1926) and Britten’s version was long out of sight and sound. This long-vanished work is a curious and highly original interpretation of the Apollo legend with some history attached.
Pianist Joshua Pierce is considered one of the most uniquely gifted virtuosos of our time. He is widely regarded for his artistry, musical intelligence and deeply committed interpretations, winning international recognition and critical acclaim for his orchestral, recital and chamber music performances His on-going series of recordings for MSR Classics of works from the great composers of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert to the romantic world of Brahms, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff form a testimony to the range of an artist who is also widely known for his performances of 20th century repertoire – from Gershwin and Ives to Cage
and Schoenberg and beyond. Such a range – encompassing the standard repertoire, contemporary works and rediscovered masterpieces of the past – is rare among pianists. Born in New York City, Pierce studied at the Cleveland Institute, Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music, and pursued Doctoral Studies at Columbia University. His teachers and mentors include Dorothy Taubman, Victor Babin and Robert Goldsand. He also studied with cellists Bernard Greenhouse of the Beaux Arts Trio and Jascha Silberstein, and with pianists Arthur Loesser, Josef Zeiger and Artur Balsam. While in Cleveland, Pierce won the prestigious Victor Babin Award and served as pianist for the vocal art classes of New York Metropolitan Opera star, Eleanor Steber.
He has numerous awards to his credit, including Grammy Award nominations, the coveted German Music Critics Award, the Diapason Award, Fono Forum Award and citations of excellence from such American publications as Downbeat Magazine, CD Review, Billboard Magazine, Keyboard Magazine, Heavy Metal, The New Yorker, Jazzmania in addition to laudatory reviews from publications across the globe. His Liszt recordings of the Three Piano Concertos and Totentanz were nominated for the “23rd International Franz Liszt Record Grand Prix Du Disque” by the National Cultural Foundation of Hungary. His career includes numerous appearances with major orchestras, including the Philharmonia of London, Royal Philharmonic, Berlin Radio Symphony, Moscow State Philharmonic, Russian State Symphony, Czech Radio Symphony, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, Slovak Philharmonic, Moravian Philharmonic, Cappella Istropolitana, Luxembourg Philharmonic, RAI Orchestra of Rome, Mexico City Philharmonic, Orchestra Sinfonica Nacional of Peru, Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, Chicago Sinfonietta and the symphony orchestras of Missouri, San Antonio, Utah and of Midland-Odessa. Pierce has collaborated with prominent chamber ensembles and musicians, including violinists Eric Friedman, Andrew Smith and Dan Auerbach as well as cellists Jeffrey Solow and Lawrence Zoernig, the Leontovich String Quartet and Chamber Players International.
A prolific recording artist, Pierce can be heard in nearly 240 works on more than 67 CDs, including the complete Beethoven, Brahms and Liszt piano concertos and the complete piano with orchestra works of Gershwin and Liszt. His prize-winning and landmark recordings of the keyboard music by John Cage for Wergo and SoLyd as well as performances and recordings under the auspices of the American Festival of Microtonal Music, Inc. have received outstanding praise and much international recognition. His recordings also include standard and many lesser-known works by nearly two dozen other composers, from Bach to Chopin and Martinu to Respighi. Pierce has recorded for a host of record labels, including MSR Classics, IMP, Pro Arte, Sony Classical, BBC Records, Virgin Classics, Vox, Japanese Victor Corporation (JVC), Carlton Classics, Centaur and Varese Sarabande. He has performed for public radio and television around the world, including NPR’s “All Things Considered”, WGBH’s Morning Pro Musica, John Schaefer’s “New Sounds” and David Dubal’s Reflections from the Keyboard” and “The American Century”, French and German “ARTE” programs as well as in Slovenia, Russia and South Korea. He has concertized at the Seattle Festival of Contemporary Music, Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, The Phillips Collection, Amherst International Music Festival, International Piano Festival at Williams, Bergen International Music Festival, Festival of Russian Composers’ Union Music Series of Moscow, London’s Royal Festival Hall and the Barbican Centre and at ISCM Festivals of Firenze, Kazan, Moscow, Nice, Venice and Zurich. A highly respected contemporary music performer and chamber music collaborator, Pierce has concertized at most of the major concert venues and series in New York City, including Alice Tully Hall, American Music Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, DiMenna Center, The Kitchen, The Knitting Factory, Merkin Hall, Roulette, Symphony Space, Weill Recital Hall and 92nd Street Y. Pierce has received several PSC-CUNY Research Award Grants and an Award Grant from the Aaron Copland Fund For Music, and has served as a judge for regional and international music competitions, including the IBLA International competition and the International Respighi Prize Music Competition. He has also served on the Board of the International Fulbright Commission and is listed in “Who’s Who” in America. [ www.piercepiano.com ]
Conductor Kirk Trevor is a regular guest conductor in the world’s concert halls. Music Director of the Knoxville Symphony from 1985 until 2003, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra since 1988, and Missouri Symphony since 2000, he has forged a strong musical partnership with three of America’s leading regional orchestras. From 1995 to 1999, Trevor also served as Chief Conductor of the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra. As a guest conductor, he has appeared on the podiums of orchestras worldwide, including the London Symphony Orchestra in Great Britain, and notable ensembles in Hong Kong, Canada, Israel, Spain, South America and throughout the United States. In 2000, he forged a relationship with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra and began an extensive series of recordings. Trevor was appointed their Principal Guest Conductor in 2003, and took them on a three-week tour of Japan and numerous European cities. Born and educated in England, Kirk Trevor trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where he graduated in cello performance and conducting, and subsequently studied with Sir Adrian Boult. In 1982, he was awarded the Exxon Arts Endowment conductor position with the Dallas Symphony, and in 1990 won the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Leonard Bernstein Conducting Competition that led to performances with the National Symphony Orchestra at
the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
YOUNG APOLLO for piano and string orchestra, Op.16
LE CARNAVAL D’AIX – Fantaisie pour piano et orchestre, Op.83b (d’après “Salade”)
Le bon et le mauvais tuteur
Le capitaine Cartuccia
Souvenir de Rio (Tango)
ECLOGUE for piano and string orchestra, Op.10
LE BOURGEOIS GENTILHOMME – Orchestral Suite, Op.60
(“Der Bürger als Edelmann”)
Overture to Act I (Jourdain the Bourgeois)
The Fencing Master
Entry and Dance of the Tailor
A Minuet of Lully
Entrance of Cleonte
Prelude to Act II (Intermezzo)
Showpieces for Piano and Orchestra JOSHUA PIERCE
THE DEVIL'S TRILL
Music for Violin and Piano DAN AUERBACH
RUSSIAN PIANO CONCERTOS
JS BACH, HAYDN & MENDELSSOHN
Piano Concertos JOSHUA PIERCE
PERSICHETTI: LEGACY OF SONGS
Unpublished Songs on Poetical Texts SHERRY …
BACH, HINDEMITH & BLOCH
J.S.Bach: Keyboard Concerto BWV 1052; JOSHUA PIERCE
Song Cycle for Soprano and Piano, Op.50
Poems SHERRY OVERHOLT
JOHN CAGE: A TRIBUTE
In Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of JOSHUA PIERCE
LISZT: 3 PIANO CONCERTOS; TOTENTENZ